Saturday, August 12, 2006

What else I might still be...


The Sunday Scribblings prompt this week is: WHO else might I still be? I chose to change it to: WHAT else might I still be?

I will be ashes some day. Not for me that strange chemical facsimile of self, reluctant to decompose. It’s not the decomposition that troubles me. Presumably I won’t be there to smell it -- it’s just the real estate of the grave. The living take up enough space in this world. Why cede land to the dead? No cemetery for me and no urn. Just turn me loose, somewhere wild.

But apart from ashes, what else might I still be? Might I be a ghost? I think I would like to be a ghost for a while, to observe the living. I would choose one to follow, like I did one morning in Venice when I woke at dawn and went out to watch the Venetians hurrying to work. They knew all the shortcuts and alleys, all the tiny bridges, and I followed one after another, getting hopelessly lost, getting drawn into the heart of a secret city where real people did plain things, even within those dreamlike palazzi.

As a ghost, I will pass through walls and perch on the tall backs of chairs. I will taste the food on people’s forks as they lift them to their lips. I will listen to their lullabyes and laments, and I will disrupt their televisions so they have to find other ways to spend the evening. With a Ouija board, maybe. I’ll spell them secrets, like who is in love with them, and who is not.

Or might I be a shade? Might I awaken in the antechamber to the afterlife to hear the jolly I-told-you-so’s of Christians as they’re whisked rapturously upward? Might I be left to loll in Purgatory, forever seeing up the skirts of the righteous as they’re hefted to heaven? Maybe. Or are atheists sent down like hooligans to the headmaster’s office? I’ll be surly as a schoolboy. I’ll repeat every sentence the devils utter til they’re gritting their teeth. I’ll say, “I know you are, but what am I?” I’ll hold up two fingers behind their heads like horns whenever a photo is being snapped. I’ll run when I’m supposed to walk, and tapdance when I’m supposed to slouch.

Or might I get a chance to audition for heaven, despite my disbelief? Wouldn’t that be nice, if all the heathen babies didn’t burn in eternal hellfire? Even if I made it through and paradise was wonderful and golden, I would want to sneak back to life and tell people: “You only have to be good!” I would spread the word like an agnostic gospel: Be good and help people. That’s all that matters! (And maybe not telling other people they’re going to Hell looks good on your heavenly resume?)

But what do I really think I will be next, many many years from now? A body whose brain will inevitably fall still, and after that ashes, and then, nothing. It might not be as exciting as ghostlife or tapdancing in hell, but it’s not sad. Life is a beautiful thing, a shimmer, like a thread of spidersilk catching the light. And I think once it’s gone it’s gone, so you should love it all you can and not get caught up in dreaming how important you’ll be in Heaven, and whether God will remember your name or have to be reminded by the angel with the clipboard.

22 comments:

Alexandra S said...

This needs to be published somewhere where many, many people can read it. That was such a wonderful and beautiful read Laini (or "F---y.)" "Life is a beautiful thing, a shimmer, like a thread of spidersillk catching the light." I'm going to quote you - again!- in my journal.

Amber said...

I agree! The whole thing just made me smile so big. And that line alexandra quoted is a lovely, lovely truth! I am also going to write it down in my quote journal. ;)

:)

paris parfait said...

Love, love, love this post! So many flights of fancy, with important insights filtering through the veils of magic and imagination - brilliant! Love the idea of disrupting televisions; of and being good and helping people -but not telling them they're going to hell because their beliefs differ. :)

bonnie said...

May I have just a small slice of your imagination??? I love your creative mind!

Sunday Scribblings said...

Sigh! I really enjoyed reading that - especially the part about being turned loose somewhere wild - i agree with that whole heartedly. This post explains a lot about you actually - it shows you as one of those shimmers. Beautiful!

P.S. This is Meg obviously - not you!! heh heh heh

GreenishLady said...

I loved this piece. I love that you went beyond the now, beyond this life. And I think it a little ironic that it never struck me (a believer in the next world) to go that far in considering my future, and although you doubt there's anything there, you are able to construct a world beyond anyway. Marvellous!

lisrobbe said...

Wonderful! I really loved the way you described the things you could be doing as a ghost, it really made me wonder just how true it might be that that really occurs. You are such a wonderful writer and I so enjoy reading your works.

Pacian said...

Probably the best writing on death that I've read in quite a while - not that I seek out the subject!

Beautifully put.

samantha said...

Laini, I love your wicked ways. :) And when you do get into heaven, and if I am there, please sit by me at the big banquet table!! You are absolutely right in that life is a beautiful shimmer, that we should enjoy it as much as we can right now. Who knows what tomorrow brings?

acumamakiki said...

What a lovely post! I'm so terrified of death and all that goes on, while I'm not and this post, made me feel better about it all. How wonderful it would be to be a ghost, even if for a little while but like you I think there's probably nothing and I try to live this life because I do believe, it's all I get.

Daisy Lupin said...

Thank you for the kind comment you made on my blog. I don't think it was prophecy, well I didn't have my crystal ball out, but I did wake up thinking about life after a catastrophe! I would like to be a cat, but I like your idea of being a ghost or shade. I know I will not go to heaven, don't really want to, when I was 7 and making my first communion, I was brought up a catholic, although my mother was a convert from Church of England. I was told if my grandparents did not become catholics, they would not go to heaven, So I rejected heaven, and later organised religon, if my grandparents weren't allowed in I didn't want it either, according to my 7 year old reasoning. Love your blog by the way.

Bibi said...

This was really funny ... very good.

Mardougrrl said...

This was really beautiful, Laini.

And this:

"A body whose brain will inevitably fall still, and after that ashes, and then, nothing. It might not be as exciting as ghostlife or tapdancing in hell, but it’s not sad. Life is a beautiful thing, a shimmer, like a thread of spidersilk catching the light. And I think once it’s gone it’s gone, so you should love it all you can and not get caught up in dreaming how important you’ll be in Heaven, and whether God will remember your name or have to be reminded by the angel with the clipboard."

Tears in my eyes--amazing.

Marilyn said...

Fabulous post, Laini! I love how you described ceding real estate to the dead...I'd never thought of it quite that way before. Good thing we don't all have X-ray vision. ;)

deirdre said...

Wonderful musings and clear observations. Your writing always, always takes me through arched doorways into magical lands. I like this agnostic gospel, be good and help people. It makes more sense to me than anything else I've ever been taught.

Kim G. said...

What a very creative take on the prompt and your descriptions - haunting and vivid in your "life after death" pictures.

Though I do believe in heaven and very much desire to end up there, I like the idea of focusing more on living on earth as Jesus would want me to than making sure my "ticket" is validated for my trip. Great post Laini! (As always!)

Naturegirl said...

An interesting look at death.. humm ghosts peering over my shoulder as I take a bite..well written!

briliantdonkey said...

wow, There isn't much that I can say that hasn't already been expressed. However, I can't come in here, read something THIS good and just pass by either. Absolutely LOVED this whole piece.


::::I will be surly as a school boy ............when I am supposed to slouch:::::

rotflmao....

Thanks for a fabulous read!

BD


PS, sorry I forgot to even put a link in my comment this week much less a permalink. Also, thanks for all the work you two do on Sunday Scribblings.

BD

liz elayne said...

wondrous...i love the images this created in my little brain. thank you my dear for sharing the way you look at the world.

Brenda said...

God wants you to know the joy of living in fellowship with him. He loves each person equally, with a love that we can't even fathom, but he gives each of us a choice. Jesus is standing at your door and knocking, it is your decision to let his love into your life. All of the beauty of this world is created by his loving hands, everything in nature shouts of his glory!

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